BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
One day before his Malaysia charges are scheduled to face China in their must-win last Group D AFC U-19 Championship match against China, Bojan Hodak commented on their Friday opponents.
Heading into the final matchday in the group, Saudi Arabia are leading with six points, Tajikistan are second with four, Malaysia third with one while China dead last with no point.
Saudi Arabia have already confirmed their quarter-final spot, while China are already eliminated, which leave Malaysia and Tajikistan in the battle for second place. A draw against the West Asian side would be enough for Tajikistan to go through, with a win allowing them to snatch the top spot. Whereas for Malaysia, they need a win over China and a Tajikistan defeat, while hoping that the goal differences shift in their favour.
Before conducting training on Thursday, Hodak commented on China, who according to him could be even more dangerous after they were eliminated.
"They conceded goals near the final 10 minutes in both their earlier games, but before they conceded they were equal to, or perhaps even better than (their opponents). They created a lot of chances but failed to put them away, and that's the reason they are out. I hope they'll fail to score against us too!
"They had been under pressure, and now that they've already been eliminated, they will play against us with minimum pressure and that could be dangerous for us. They could field players who had not received playing time, who may want to prove to their coach that he had made a mistake by not fielding them in the first two matches.
"They are more disciplined tactically, they are tall and strong, but they are not as aggressive when tackling and challenging (as compared to Saudi Arabia and Tajikistan)," revealed the Croatian.
He also remarked that midfielder Nik Akif Nik Mat, who had picked up an injury in their 2-2 draw against Tajikistan on Tuesday, looked to be in a better condition that initially thought.
"Syaiful [Alias, defender] is not ready yet, he still has a pain in his leg and I may have to replace him.
"Akif meanwhile is recovering well, and his situation is not as bad as we'd thought it would be. He should be able to play, only that I need to assess whether he can play the full 90 minutes," he explained.
The match will be held at 8.00 pm Malaysian time, at the Pakansari Stadium, Cibinong.
Also follow Goal Malaysia 's Instagram account!